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Cognitive psychology of reading: research on learning, development and teaching of written language

Grant number: 14/24147-3
Support type:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: August 16, 2015 - September 15, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Cognitive Psychology
Principal Investigator:Maria Regina Maluf
Grantee:Maria Regina Maluf
Visiting researcher: José Carlos Junça de Morais
Visiting researcher institution: Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium
Home Institution: Instituto de Psicologia (IP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The proposal for a visit of the Professor Jose de Morais aims to continue and strength his exchanges with some Brazilian researchers who develop studies on the cognitive psychology of reading, whose hypotheses are grounded in the new science of reading, particularly in the neurosciences, and developed especially in the last 30 years. The proposal inserts up in a major integrated research project which has already generated interesting results. These theoretical and practical results may impact the teaching of written language in Brazilian schools. Research projects are based in the same theoretical and methodological framework and are predominantly experimental. Cognitive reading psychology is a relatively new area in Brazil, which is accompanying what is most updated in the field of children's initiation into written language, i.e., in literacy. Literacy successfully and in the shortest time is one of the pressing needs of national education. The beneficiary of this proposal and his team whose projects have been listed here develop cooperation activities with larger research groups (Working Group ANPEPP; Research Groups of the CNPq Research Directory). They publish about their research results in Brazil and outside the Country. The research projects that directly benefit from the visit are mostly experimental designs with intervention and control groups, or compare the participants themselves on the steps of pretest, intervention and post-test. Research members of this project are gathering data in public schools as well as in private school, as one of their goals is to study the impact of school conditions and education on children's acquisition of writing and reading skills. Research participants are children from the last stages of early childhood education (children 3-5 years) as well as from the first three years of primary school (children 6-8 years). We can also accept projects for studying adult literacy from the perspective of cognitive psychology of reading. Data are gathered making use of procedures that include reading and writing tests (individual application and collective application), and tests of metalinguistic skills (phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, morph syntactic awareness) which can be of individual or collective application. These data allow qualitative analysis as well as quantitative analysis which include the use of statistical tests. Research design can be exploratory, comparative, longitudinal and transversal. Research designs can include experimental groups and control groups to test: # the effects of phonemic instruction applied to typical children as well as to children who, though not showing cognitive deficits are struggling in literacy (tests of cognitive functions are applied when convenient); # the role of reading comprehension specific components, such as inference and vocabulary. A key working assumption is that all children can learn to read and write if teaching is appropriate and includes practices focused on the development of metalinguistic skills, vocabulary, and comprehension of the alphabetic principle. It is argued that children who develop phonemic awareness at the beginning of the written language acquisition get much more progress than those who do not get such instruction. The acquisition of reading and writing skills depends on two basic components, equally important: decoding and comprehension. Some projects work about executive functions emphases understanding of written language into its constituent elements, specifically the inference; other research projects work on the role of components of cognition, such as working memory and speed of nomination, whose influence has been identified in surveys conducted in English and in French, and most recently in Portuguese. (AU)